We present a method for absolute measurement of thermal conductivity of drill cuttings. The simplicity of the apparatus makes it suitable for nondestructive use of cuttings and for sample sizes too small to be measured with a needle probe.

Because the measurement is absolute, no calibration standards are required. Samples are placed in a Plexiglas cup with a lid containing an electric heat source. The base of the cup is placed in good thermal contact with an aluminum-block heat sink. Upward and radial heat losses are minimized with styrofoam insulation surrounding the cup. The accuracy of the method was estimated by cross-measurement of selected samples with a well-calibrated needle probe. Results indicate that errors in measurement are less than 5 percent for sample conductivities greater than 0.8 W/m · K if the heat loss through the styrofoam insulation is accounted for. Reproducibility is typically within 3 percent. An axisymmetric finite-element model which simulates the temperature distribution of the measurement apparatus further demonstrates its viability.

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